More than 20 volunteers gathered in Memorial Hall over two days in July to assemble 1,000 Summer Discovery Backpacks for young children living in West Philadelphia’s Parkside neighborhood. With virtual learning now concluded for the academic year and many traditional summer programs, camps and events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Please Touch Museum designed and sourced these backpacks to encourage children, ages 4-8, living closest to the Museum, to continue building critical social and emotional skills through play during these summer months in preparation for the next school year.
Community Coming Together
We are grateful for a $25,000 lead gift from the PNC Foundation through its “PNC Grow Up Great” initiative and the following sponsors and supporters who provided critical funding for this outreach initiative: Imagination Playground®, Penguin Random House, author Hallee Adelman, Keystone First, Please Touch Museum Board of Trustees and the Parkside Advisory Council. A few elements in the backpacks included:
- PTM-created Family Activity Book including Penguin Random House-designed Mad Libs Junior
- Pop-Out Mini Playgrounds by Imagination Playground®
- Books such as “The Little Engine That Could” and “My Quiet Ship”
- Hand lenses for nature exploration
- Beach balls for gross motor skill development
- Sidewalk chalk to create street art
- Hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and sweatbands from Keystone First
A special thank you to following individuals and organizations who were instrumental to the success of the backpack assembly: Shakia Boulware of the Parkside Association; Kelly Thomas and Dwayne Walker of People’s Emergency Center; Chris Spahr, Executive Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC; Pam Evans of Locke Elementary School; Alice Wright of United Block Captains; Jennifer Mahar from the Fairmont Park Conservancy; and the team from Girls Like Me, Inc.
Please Touch Museum worked closely with its Parkside Community Advisory Council to identify distribution points which reach deep into the Parkside community. These distributions sites include: Parkside CDC’s PlayStreets Program; the Mantua Haverford Community Center; Grace Lutheran Church’s Food Cupboard; the Bell Project; United Block Captains; Mt. Vernon Manor; Second Antioch Church; Parkside Association; Discovery Charter School; Mill Creek Community Partnership; K1 and K2 Locke Elementary School; and the People’s Emergency Center’s Action for Early Learning Summer Outreach program, Housing and Food Cupboard.
“Although the Museum is closed right now, we felt it was important to outreach to the children and families of Parkside to remind them that even though we can’t be together right now, there are so many ways to learn through play, even at home,” said Patricia D. Wellenbach, President & CEO, Please Touch Museum. “With the Summer Discovery Backpacks, we have created a special resource for young learners, which we hope will engage them throughout July and August, and help to prepare them for the return to school in September, however that experience may be.”
“We hope all the children who receive these backpacks enjoy them as much as PNC, with Please Touch Museum, enjoyed creating them,” shared Joe Meterchick, PNC Bank regional president, Philadelphia, Delaware and Southern New Jersey.
To learn more about the effort to support Parkside Community’s young children, see the press release and news stories below: